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A Story of Children and Film [DVD]
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A Story of Children and Film is the world's first movie about kids in global cinema. It's passionate, poetic, portrait of the adventure of childhood: its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and stroppiness: as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries. A story of children and film is an eye opener, a landmark film and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.
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Cousins uses 'home-made’, spontaneous footage of his young niece and nephew to illustrate elements of a 'typical’ child’s reaction to being on camera and thus the universally engaging appeal of films viewed from a child’s perspective – drawing out themes of class, wariness, innocence, shyness, anger, fear, 'parenting’, identity, adventure, bullying, loss and dreams. And Cousins’ scope is (unsurprisingly) very wide, including films from America (US, Mexico, though I don’t recall any from South America), Europe (UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Poland, Russia, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Albania), The Middle East (Iran, Iraq), Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso), Asia (Japan, China, India, South Korea) and Australia, taking in the work of many leading film-makers (Ozu, Loach, Panahi, Kaige, Bergman, Laughton, Tarkovsky, Mambéty, Kiarostami, Bunuel, Lean, Campion) and, at least as interestingly, many lesser-known directors. Cousins’ film has many filmic highlights, but particular favourites for me would include his featured sequences from The Night Of The Hunter, The Spirit Of The Beehive, The 400 Blows, Willow And Wind and Palle Alone In The World.
My concluding thoughts on Cousins’ project were essentially along the lines of why hadn’t someone thought of doing this before, as well as the potential use A Story Of Children And Film could be in acting as an aide memoire – either for new films to see or those to be revisited. It comes highly recommended for all cineastes out there.
He observes that "many of the best films with child protagonists are directed by women", though he does not back this fact with statistics.
This is an entertaining breeze introducing us to several obscure foreign films.
Obviously a documentary can only touch briefly on these aspects. Once you have viewed this film, if you wish to research further, the comprehensive Children in Films portrays the diverse roles children are expected to portray, in particular how gender differences are perpuated or challenged by film makers. The The Child in Film: Tears, Fears and Fairy Tales visualises the child in fairy tale and horror, while Hollywood Lolita: The Nymphette Syndrome In The Movies specialises in the depiction of exploitation of the girl child in the movies.
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